Apple working on car windshield anti-glare system to protect driver from bright lights

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2018
Driving in the dark could be easier on the eyes in the future, as Apple has come up with a way to reduce the amount of glare a driver may endure from headlights or the Sun, by automatically blocking the light source from view.

Apple self-driving car


Glare can be a danger to drivers, with the high level of light potentially lowering visibility of the road and other road users. While there are sunshades that can be lowered, this could be cumbersome for some people and can block off a large section of the driver's vision, while tinting is a more permanent option that may not be desired by some car owners.

Published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple's patent application for an "Active Glare Suppression System" aims to beat the unwanted light with an approach that can cut the light from reaching the driver's eyes at all.

Apple's system starts with a camera to determine where the driver's eyes are located within the car. This and other sensors are also able to gather other information about light levels in the car, as well as for sources of light outside the vehicle, such as the Sun, headlights, or street lamps.

This data is fed into a control circuit, which in turn adjusts light modulators in strategic locations on the windscreen, side windows, or mirrors. The modulators could be commanded to alter itself in specific points of each reflective or clear surface, so as to only block or dull the bright light and to keep the rest of the surface clear for the driver to see the road.

These modulators can consist of photochromic, liquid crystal, or electrochromic layers, which can change on command. The modulators are arranged on the windscreen and other surfaces in strips to become an electric sun shade at the top, or can be divided down into smaller sections that can block out just the brighter areas in the driver's vision, while the remainder of the surface is left see-through, or in the case of mirrors, reflective.

Apple's anti-glare system for  a possible future Apple Car


As with other patents and applications, Apple makes a number of filings every week, and while it is an indication of where Apple has spent time working, it isn't a guarantee that the described concepts will appear in a commercial product.

The application is one in a series of similar filings that seem connected to "Project Titan," which was initially focused on producing a branded vehicle, but later pivoted to concentrate on self-driving vehicle technology. Apple is currently operating a fleet of vehicles in California to test the system, and is believed to be working with Volkswagen on the PAIL program, which aims to ferry employees between Apple offices using autonomous vans.

Noteworthy patents and applications in self-driving technology includes one where the vehicle warns other road users of their intention to turn or change lanes using external displays, altering its driving style based on the observed stress levels of its passengers, and "peloton" driving and inter-car power sharing to save on fuel consumption for long journeys.

Other patents have surfaced relating to car design and technology, suggesting Apple is still working on designing its own vehicles. A patent application for a "converter architecture" explains how to improve the power train of an electric car to more efficiently change a high-voltage power source down to a lower voltage.

Another relates to the design of a sunroof system that uses multiple tracks to slide a panel along the top of a vehicle, shifting a narrow roof panel back along a wider rear section. It has also patented a haptic feedback system involving seats, where the seatbelt and the seat itself can automatically adjust to warn drivers and to protect passengers in the event of an accident.

AppleInsider will be at the fall "There's more in the making" event, where we expect new iPad Pros, and maybe even new Macs! Keep up with our coverage by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on YouTube, Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    wigbywigby Posts: 688member
    This is the first sign of Apple not only interested in the hardware and construction of an automobile, but also the integration of driver and self-driving vehicle. Seems like a pointless patent even if it's purely defensive. By the time any of this tech will be produced, it will probably be illegal for human drivers to operate their vehicles on public roads.
    SpamSandwichcornchipwilliamhJWSCMetriacanthosaurusMetriacanthosaurus
  • Reply 2 of 22
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,999member
    This could be a life saver. A good friend of mine was struck and killed while walking his dog last month by a driver who was supposedly blinded by sun glare. Sunglasses probably would have helped, but people make mistakes and having technology that can fill in for gaps in human judgment is still worthwhile. 
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 22
    With Apple's apparent ongoing interest in the car market, could be an opportune time for them to buy Ford. Their stock has been in serious decline over the last 20 years and they have the manufacturing capacity for Apple Cars and then some. And it being an iconic American car/truck company could be a nice grace note for the rise of Apple Cars/Trucks/Peoplemovers in their place.
    edited October 2018 cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 22
    wigby said:
    This is the first sign of Apple not only interested in the hardware and construction of an automobile, but also the integration of driver and self-driving vehicle. Seems like a pointless patent even if it's purely defensive. By the time any of this tech will be produced, it will probably be illegal for human drivers to operate their vehicles on public roads.
    You are funny. There will be many oulaws thne including myself. I wonder those robocops who will stop anyone of us. After all they should be patrolling right?
    edited October 2018 StrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 22
    I find it amazing that a couple of flappy panels mounted above the windshield is the best the auto industry can do after making cars for a hundred years. I mean the sun visors on today's cars may be plastic rather than the cardboard or wood of the Model T but they are essentially the same thing. They seldom are in the position you need, and flopping them around is distracting and a driving hazard. Glad that somebody has realized we should be able to do better.
    SpamSandwichracerhomie3fastasleepcaladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 337member
    DAalseth said:
    I find it amazing that a couple of flappy panels mounted above the windshield is the best the auto industry can do after making cars for a hundred years. I mean the sun visors on today's cars may be plastic rather than the cardboard or wood of the Model T but they are essentially the same thing. They seldom are in the position you need, and flopping them around is distracting and a driving hazard. Glad that somebody has realized we should be able to do better.
    Sadly, I don’t find it amazing at all.  The old guard auto manufacturers have been stuck in a self imposed slump since the 1980s.  And given that they hail from the Midwest, a most insular and non outward looking place (I know, I was born there), it’s not surprising a different solution never saw the light of day because it couldn’t get past the bean counters in management.

    This is why Spammy above is wrong.  Apple should NOT buy Ford the company.  But like GM, Ford has some very good engineers that Apple can hire away.

    Silicon Valley has a lot to learn about heavy industry and manufacturering automobiles.  But they will learn.  Silicon Valley has so much it can bring to the table in terms of technology and design.  But the Detroit old guard is incapable of changing its management style.  Ford and GM are dead wood.  They just don’t know it yet.
    edited October 2018
  • Reply 7 of 22
    With Apple's apparent ongoing interest in the car market, could be an opportune time for them to buy Ford. Their stock has been in serious decline over the last 20 years and they have the manufacturing capacity for Apple Cars and then some. And it being an iconic American car/truck company could be a nice grace note for the rise of Apple Cars/Trucks/Peoplemovers in their place.
    This is intriguing.  Ford recently announced that they are discontinuing most of their passenger cars (keeping the Mustang and not sure what else) to focus on SUVs, pickups, etc that are profitable.  I trust they know what's best for their business but it seems rather sad.  If Apple got involved, they could bring Ford back into that business.  I'm pretty sure Apple doesn't want to be in the internal combustion truck business but perhaps they could work with Ford as a sort of independent marquee within the Ford family, sort of like I think Saturn was supposed to work within GM.  Apple would totally run and mostly own that division and get Ford's car manufacturing know-how, auto distribution, support, etc.  Ford would get Apple quality control, iPhone halo effect, better use of their existing factories, underused workers, etc.  Ford could give Apple everything that Tesla is struggling with (from what I've read) in terms of the paint shop, metal stamping, etc. Apple could probably teach Ford quite a bit too.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 22
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,223member
    With Apple's apparent ongoing interest in the car market, could be an opportune time for them to buy Ford. Their stock has been in serious decline over the last 20 years and they have the manufacturing capacity for Apple Cars and then some. And it being an iconic American car/truck company could be a nice grace note for the rise of Apple Cars/Trucks/Peoplemovers in their place.

    No, Ford is quitting the car business to make trucks. If Apple wanted an Apple Truck, then Ford would work, but they’re building an Apple Car, so it just wouldn’t work!
  • Reply 9 of 22
    Apple could reuse it's Dialog semiconductor purchase model and just buy Ford engineers and IP instead of buying the whole company.
  • Reply 10 of 22
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,286member
    This report just further convinces me that Apple has little interest in building a car, anymore than it had in building a television. It's interest is in improving the experience (including safety) of the user of the car.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    chasm said:
    This report just further convinces me that Apple has little interest in building a car, anymore than it had in building a television. It's interest is in improving the experience (including safety) of the user of the car.
    Yes, but they’ll be doing it with their own end-to-end transportation experience, not someone else’s. Which is why Ford’s facilities and people COULD make sense as an acquisition, especially since all that IP comes with the deal, plus dealers and distribution channels.
    edited October 2018
  • Reply 12 of 22
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,186member
    This is good and needed....
    Yes, there has always been sun glare and as a previous poster illustrated, it can have deadly consequences.  But, what has been increasingly bothering me lately is headlight glare.

    I don't know whether that is from the newer, high intensity headlights becoming popular or the fact that I'm getting old.  I suspect the answer may be "Both!".

    In any case, particularly on a busy 2 lane road I find my eyes adjusting to the bright headlights which, in turn, decreases the amount I can see in the "shadows".   But, I have found a solution:   Yellow sun glasses.  They only seem to cut down on the glare from the headlights without decreasing (to any noticeable degree) the overall light getting to my eyes.   The result is:   I can see everything much better -- both in lit and unlit areas.
  • Reply 13 of 22
    williamh said:
    With Apple's apparent ongoing interest in the car market, could be an opportune time for them to buy Ford. Their stock has been in serious decline over the last 20 years and they have the manufacturing capacity for Apple Cars and then some. And it being an iconic American car/truck company could be a nice grace note for the rise of Apple Cars/Trucks/Peoplemovers in their place.
    This is intriguing.  Ford recently announced that they are discontinuing most of their passenger cars (keeping the Mustang and not sure what else) to focus on SUVs, pickups, etc that are profitable.  I trust they know what's best for their business but it seems rather sad.  If Apple got involved, they could bring Ford back into that business.  I'm pretty sure Apple doesn't want to be in the internal combustion truck business but perhaps they could work with Ford as a sort of independent marquee within the Ford family, sort of like I think Saturn was supposed to work within GM.  Apple would totally run and mostly own that division and get Ford's car manufacturing know-how, auto distribution, support, etc.  Ford would get Apple quality control, iPhone halo effect, better use of their existing factories, underused workers, etc.  Ford could give Apple everything that Tesla is struggling with (from what I've read) in terms of the paint shop, metal stamping, etc. Apple could probably teach Ford quite a bit too.
    I've heard that several manufacturers are dropping passenger cars for SUVs. Looks like I'll add Ford to the list of companies I will not be getting my next car from. I want something small and svelte and efficient, not some GD SUV Land Barge. Not some Chelsea Tractor 4x4. I want a car. A small car that sips gas and can haul two people and a backpack around town.
    GeorgeBMacfastasleep
  • Reply 14 of 22
    I’m sure there is a lot more to this. Glare isn’t a life changing problem that needs solving...but, it will need solving in order for AR windshields to become a thing. This is High on the list of potential AR applications. 
  • Reply 15 of 22
    maltzmaltz Posts: 128member
    DAalseth said:
    williamh said:
    With Apple's apparent ongoing interest in the car market, could be an opportune time for them to buy Ford. Their stock has been in serious decline over the last 20 years and they have the manufacturing capacity for Apple Cars and then some. And it being an iconic American car/truck company could be a nice grace note for the rise of Apple Cars/Trucks/Peoplemovers in their place.
    This is intriguing.  Ford recently announced that they are discontinuing most of their passenger cars (keeping the Mustang and not sure what else) to focus on SUVs, pickups, etc that are profitable.  I trust they know what's best for their business but it seems rather sad.  If Apple got involved, they could bring Ford back into that business.  I'm pretty sure Apple doesn't want to be in the internal combustion truck business but perhaps they could work with Ford as a sort of independent marquee within the Ford family, sort of like I think Saturn was supposed to work within GM.  Apple would totally run and mostly own that division and get Ford's car manufacturing know-how, auto distribution, support, etc.  Ford would get Apple quality control, iPhone halo effect, better use of their existing factories, underused workers, etc.  Ford could give Apple everything that Tesla is struggling with (from what I've read) in terms of the paint shop, metal stamping, etc. Apple could probably teach Ford quite a bit too.
    I've heard that several manufacturers are dropping passenger cars for SUVs. Looks like I'll add Ford to the list of companies I will not be getting my next car from. I want something small and svelte and efficient, not some GD SUV Land Barge. Not some Chelsea Tractor 4x4. I want a car. A small car that sips gas and can haul two people and a backpack around town.
    Others of us have more people to bring along than one friend, more to carry than will fit in a backpack, and occasionally leave the town (and possibly even roads) behind.  There are valid use cases for those "GD SUV Land Barges", and there are plenty of manufacturers serving both needs.  To each his own.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 22
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,186member
    maltz said:
    DAalseth said:
    williamh said:
    With Apple's apparent ongoing interest in the car market, could be an opportune time for them to buy Ford. Their stock has been in serious decline over the last 20 years and they have the manufacturing capacity for Apple Cars and then some. And it being an iconic American car/truck company could be a nice grace note for the rise of Apple Cars/Trucks/Peoplemovers in their place.
    This is intriguing.  Ford recently announced that they are discontinuing most of their passenger cars (keeping the Mustang and not sure what else) to focus on SUVs, pickups, etc that are profitable.  I trust they know what's best for their business but it seems rather sad.  If Apple got involved, they could bring Ford back into that business.  I'm pretty sure Apple doesn't want to be in the internal combustion truck business but perhaps they could work with Ford as a sort of independent marquee within the Ford family, sort of like I think Saturn was supposed to work within GM.  Apple would totally run and mostly own that division and get Ford's car manufacturing know-how, auto distribution, support, etc.  Ford would get Apple quality control, iPhone halo effect, better use of their existing factories, underused workers, etc.  Ford could give Apple everything that Tesla is struggling with (from what I've read) in terms of the paint shop, metal stamping, etc. Apple could probably teach Ford quite a bit too.
    I've heard that several manufacturers are dropping passenger cars for SUVs. Looks like I'll add Ford to the list of companies I will not be getting my next car from. I want something small and svelte and efficient, not some GD SUV Land Barge. Not some Chelsea Tractor 4x4. I want a car. A small car that sips gas and can haul two people and a backpack around town.
    Others of us have more people to bring along than one friend, more to carry than will fit in a backpack, and occasionally leave the town (and possibly even roads) behind.  There are valid use cases for those "GD SUV Land Barges", and there are plenty of manufacturers serving both needs.  To each his own.
    So why is it, after about a 100 years or so, people now need a "GD SUV Land Barge" -- so much so that Ford would stop making family cars?  Especially now that families have shrunk.   There's more going on here than need and functionality.
  • Reply 17 of 22
    maltz said:
    DAalseth said:
    williamh said:
    With Apple's apparent ongoing interest in the car market, could be an opportune time for them to buy Ford. Their stock has been in serious decline over the last 20 years and they have the manufacturing capacity for Apple Cars and then some. And it being an iconic American car/truck company could be a nice grace note for the rise of Apple Cars/Trucks/Peoplemovers in their place.
    This is intriguing.  Ford recently announced that they are discontinuing most of their passenger cars (keeping the Mustang and not sure what else) to focus on SUVs, pickups, etc that are profitable.  I trust they know what's best for their business but it seems rather sad.  If Apple got involved, they could bring Ford back into that business.  I'm pretty sure Apple doesn't want to be in the internal combustion truck business but perhaps they could work with Ford as a sort of independent marquee within the Ford family, sort of like I think Saturn was supposed to work within GM.  Apple would totally run and mostly own that division and get Ford's car manufacturing know-how, auto distribution, support, etc.  Ford would get Apple quality control, iPhone halo effect, better use of their existing factories, underused workers, etc.  Ford could give Apple everything that Tesla is struggling with (from what I've read) in terms of the paint shop, metal stamping, etc. Apple could probably teach Ford quite a bit too.
    I've heard that several manufacturers are dropping passenger cars for SUVs. Looks like I'll add Ford to the list of companies I will not be getting my next car from. I want something small and svelte and efficient, not some GD SUV Land Barge. Not some Chelsea Tractor 4x4. I want a car. A small car that sips gas and can haul two people and a backpack around town.
    Others of us have more people to bring along than one friend, more to carry than will fit in a backpack, and occasionally leave the town (and possibly even roads) behind.  There are valid use cases for those "GD SUV Land Barges", and there are plenty of manufacturers serving both needs.  To each his own.
    Also, SUVs are big sellers in China. Large families and big demand for large, luxurious vehicles.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    I just replaced my well loved 1998 Subaru Outback (i installed Apple CarPlay by the way) for a 2018 Outback.  The latter is just a sexless tub of a car and a way to con me into services.

    Bring on the Apple Car Experience from my perspective.  If VW provides the chassis, suspension and a sporty engine (electric or otherwise) I’ll shell out good money immediately.
    GeorgeBMaccaladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 22
    TomETomE Posts: 137member
    I look forward to this annoying light blocking technology.  Lights are on the top of the list when I drive at night in GA.  One would think they are all on High Beams ; or the driver is on a cell phone.  My recent in town survey showed 8 out of 8 were on cell phones - which is illegal..
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 22
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,186member
    TomE said:
    I look forward to this annoying light blocking technology.  Lights are on the top of the list when I drive at night in GA.  One would think they are all on High Beams ; or the driver is on a cell phone.  My recent in town survey showed 8 out of 8 were on cell phones - which is illegal..
    As I mentioned earlier, yellow sunglasses helped me with that problem:  They reduce the glare & brightness from high beams and high intensity headlights which lets you see into the dark areas better.   So far, they've been a win-win for me -- reduce the blinding glare and increase visibility in the dark areas like the side of the road.
    watto_cobra
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